Chinese workers seeking leisure on Labor Day

09:38, May 02, 2011      

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Mai Zhiping was not interested in the seemingly attractive overtime pay. Instead, he decided to visit his girlfriend's family on the Labor Day.

"Although the pay is high today, I'd rather enjoy the leisure," said Mai, who is working at a training institution in Shenzhen City in south China's Guangdong Province.

According to Chinese law, International Labor Day on May 1 is an official holiday, and employees working on that day should be given extra pay equaling at least three times their daily salary.

However, Chinese laborers nowadays like Mai have begun enjoying the day off, rather than earning extra money.

"Although both my girlfriend and I work in Shenzhen, we don't have much time to be together, so I'm excited to go with her to her parents on Labor Day," he said.

Ye Dehui, a worker at a shoe manufacturing plant, said he could finally enjoy an "un-laboring" Labor Day, as his boss decided to suspend production for the day.

"People can't live just for earning money," he said.

Yin Jiqi, Ye's boss, said it was the first time in 16 years for his plant to suspend production, as it was too costly to pay extra to the workers.

"Raw material costs have soared these days, and it is definitely too expensive to pay three times' salary for my 3,000-plus workers," he said. "I'd rather have one day's break."

Deng Jun, a resident from Yan'an City, northwest China's Shaanxi Province, spent his holiday visiting the International Horticultural Exposition (IHE) in the provincial capital of Xi'an.

He was shocked to see plants growing on walls at the Creativity Park. "I wish I could have a wall like that, which makes the indoor environment green," he said.

In Beijing, more than 750,000 residents enjoyed their holiday at the city's parks, such as the Summer Palace and the Temple of Heaven, said Chen Zhiqiang, a spokesman with the Beijing Municipality Park Management Center.

Miao Di, a professor with the Communication University of China, said many industries featured an endless pursuit of wealth during the past 30 years, and many workers gave up their holidays. In this process, people's values in pursuing happiness were twisted.

"Enjoying life is what laborers deserve," Miao said.

Lu Xuejing, a professor with the School of Labor Economics under the Capital University of Economics and Business, said as people's material lives significantly improves, they are entitled to pursue improvements in their spiritual lives.

"Pursuing leisure time is actually a kind of progress," she said.

Source: Xinhua
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